Shamelessness: Fuel for Stretch Experiences, Diversity, and Integration

Over the past 2 amazing years, I met people of all possible backgrounds: some of them grew up in conditions I would never imagine, some of them went through the struggle of gender identification, some of them served in the military and even went to war, while others didn’t have any financial obstacles to pursue whatever they wanted to.

I was not born into the most privileged family, but I am a straight, white man, had the opportunity to get a decent education and go to the best University in my country. Before Wharton, I had only had one job interview in life, and this is the one that got me my only job, in Private Equity.

Life had been great, I didn’t know any struggle. Well, not until I had to write those admission essays – high five to my international classmates! I know you feel my pain like no other! Only God and my wife knew how much wine was poured into that inspiration. Now, my classmates can also imagine it.

“What do you hope to gain professionally from the Wharton MBA?” – I’m not sure.

“Describe an impactful experience or accomplishment that is not reflected elsewhere in your application” – More than I’ve already said??

“How will you use what you learned through your experience to contribute to the Wharton community?” – I don’t even know yet what the Wharton Community is like!

“What matters most to you and why?” – Is this one a joke?? I’m an engineer. I can’t even start answering that!

I’ve done many fun things in life which I gladly told my classmates about at the 200 small group dinners I have attended, but I would probably not be welcomed by the Wharton Admissions had I talked about them in my essays. Instead, what I wrote in the essays was: (i) I want to develop a global mindset that will allow me to close investment transactions no matter where I need to do business; and (ii) I am looking to foster the skill to positively influence others, starting by my closest friends from Brazil and Latin America. Wow!

I hardly believed in anything I was writing at the time, but looking back at it now, Wharton actually helped me achieve both of these points. And more than any of them, I’ve achieved my unwritten goal for the MBA: to get out of my comfort zone, which I did through shamelessness. Shamelessness has been my fuel for stretch experiences, diversity, and integration along these 2 years.

Some of you might remember me as that fun guy who falls asleep at parties not letting his can fall. Some will think about the introverted sailor from New Zealand – yes, I’ve been called an introvert in the Tall Ship Leadership Venture. Shamelessness gained me the title of a Lauder party crasher – acquired early on my Welcome Weekend, made me a Bollywood dancer, a co-president of the coolest club on campus (WHALASA), a leader of the trek to my country (Brazil). I have become a member of the most random clubs, being sometimes the only non-Chinese speaking person at a very Chinese dinner.

I am proud to say that I feel shameless! I feel accomplished! I feel integrated! I know my life really changed at Wharton. And I’m sure all of you feel the same way!

I feel that I lived fully all the diversity Wharton has to offer. And I’m glad I did all of that with you!

The Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl usually talked about borders, but I would adapt his thoughts to barriers. “Barriers? I’ve never seen one. But I heard they exist in the mind of some people.” At Wharton, we all overcame so many barriers that, after here, I hope none of us take them seriously anymore.